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Americans wait long hours to enter US at Brownsville port-of-entry

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It was a crowded situation Thursday night at the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville. The people waiting on the bridge were not asylum seekers, they were Americans.

Adults, babies and elderly – some wearing face coverings, some not – all without passports.

Herman Auhl says it was his first trip through the bridge. “I got in line at 9:17 p.m. out time. So, what time is it right now? About 12, midnight,” he said during a video interview.

“Danielle Martinez. She’s been here since seven. So, you can add another two hours to that. So, she’s ben here quite a long time,” explained Auhl with the camera on Martinez. “And you are an American citizen? She’s an American citizen.”

Auhl said those with passports were allowed through. Those without were held on the Mexican side of the international bridge.

In five hours, a bottleneck formed until the pressure was released at midnight. That is when Customs and Border Protection allowed them into the U.S. side. CBP officers had held them back.

“On the middle of the bridge, there were a total of three to four officers at all the time. And there’s only one officer. It looks like, checking documents,” described Auhl.

CBP sent a statement saying it’s a staffing issue, it reads:

“CBP adjusts staffing accordingly to address operational needs, and those needs may fluctuate from time to time. At a national level, passenger vehicle traffic at ports of entry has decreased by more than 50 percent since the implementation of restrictions on non-essential travel."

Patience ran short for some travelers.

“There were a few people who just sort of gave up. Around the two-hour mark, close to midnight when they decided to turn around, go back to Matamoros and try back in the morning,” said Auhl.

Those who returned Friday morning didn’t fare much better. Essential travel restrictions will remain in place until May 20. If Auhl has to cross between now and then, he’s learned to do things differently.

“I got a passport, but it’s sitting at home. I’ll never forget it,” Auhl said.

Auhl was able to finally get back into the U.S. by 1 a.m. Friday. CBP also recommend checking bridge wait times before crossing into Mexico.

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